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FANGORIA scribe and shutterbug David Goodfellow makes his way to Scarefest Horror & Paranormal Convention in Lexington, Kentucky and lives to tell the tale in his "Horror CONfidential" series...
BILL MOSELEY was able to hang out with his daughter JANE for the weekend
But no matter, I had just experienced such a fun weekend that nothing, not even trivial things like three hour muscle cramps, near death experiences, and obnoxious chair hogs could put a damper on it.
I was returning from ScareFest IV in Lexington Kentucky, a unique convention that combined the standard horror movie themed guests and vendors with an equal portion of paranormal guests and trappings. It was the first time I'd ever experienced the like and it made for a colorful three days.
My weekend began bright and early Friday morning at the Toronto airport. Still a little groggy from the early morning wakeup call and slightly disoriented by a United VS Air Canada flight discrepancy at the service desk, I heard some hubbub about a person of interest in the line I was in. Scanning the area, the only person I saw that looked 'Hollywood' was a good-looking fellow in an expensive leather jacket and mirrored aviator glasses. I figured he was a football player or something until I got the skinny from a couple he was talking to. Lo and behold, the very gentleman in question got in line directly behind me for the security check and nodded at me. Unable to suppress my inner jackass, I turned to him and said "great, now I'll have the Addams Family theme song stuck in my head all day" which made him chuckle and broke the ice for a brief chat while we took off our shoes and he peeled off a pirates dream worth of jewelry. Yep, I met MC Hammer at airport security. Nice guy, he was in Toronto for a benefit and pointed out that the Addams family dancers were all around us in the line. And of course, a victim of my own smart-assery, the song did indeed get lodged in my head, alternating with "you can't touch this" until I turned on the inflight movie. I opted for Bad Teacher, which was actually pretty amusing and just the right duration as the credits rolled just as we touched down in Chicago.
Children of the CON: JOHN FRANKLIN and COURTNEY GAINS
After a criminally long layover in the Chicago O'Hare airport (with crappy internet service) I was finally off to Lexington, a short and uneventful flight. As we descended to the airport though - woah - HUGE beautiful homes sitting on MASSIVE lush green properties, one after the other. And the horse farms – wow! I was passing over more money than I’ve ever seen the likes of before, planted in a gorgeous countryside that made me wish I'd get a chance to see it up close. But that wouldn't be possible. It never is on these excursions, but it does make you strongly consider returning for a chance to see the city and surrounding area outside the confines of the convention hall.
The Lexington airport is a very modest size, which enabled me to land, grab my baggage and locate the hotel shuttle in less than 15 minutes. Amazing!! I had the pleasure of sharing the hotel shuttle with a cute pair of energetic blondes from Detroit also bound for the convention. The shuttle pilot was also a horror fan and his partner was a nice guy who was fascinated by the whole conversation. This was my first taste of 'southern hospitality' which I found to be unwavering for the entire duration of my visit.
It's HAMMER TIME! TCM'S GRANDPA: the amiable JOHN DUGAN
I forgot to mention that there was a fellow two rows back of me in the airplane that looked vaguely familiar. I saw him again outside of the airport waiting for a lift - which turned out to be a private car. Asking him if he was here for the convention he said he was, and while getting his name I kicked myself. To be fair he had a far different hairstyle (head and facial) from the last couple of times I saw him, but once he told me I felt like an ass. Vernon Wells, AKA the mohawked psycho from MAD MAX, AKA Bennett, the muscled moustache that menaced Arnold in COMMANDO, was standing right before me. Off he went with his private ride and off I went with the Detroit girls. Izel and ‘T’, our drivers, brought us to the sprawling, supposedly haunted Campbell House (Crown Plaza) where I bumped into Vernon Wells once again, registering at the front desk. This hotel must look like a spider from the air. They give you a map at the front desk because it’s not easy finding your room on your own. Two main halls head off in opposite directions from the spacious but comfy lobby. I believe that they in turn split off (at least the one I was in did) and there is a weird numbering system that I never did figure out. These hallways went on for miles; I never did make it to the end of any of them. It’s quite possible that they just go on forever. After a few wrong turns I somehow found my room, freshened up, grabbed my camera gear and ran out to catch the shuttle that would take me to the Convention Centre. The only problem was; that when I left my room nothing looked the same as it did going in, and it took me a few tries to find my way back to the lobby. This would happen every single time I left my room for the rest of the weekend. I do believe that the Campbell House is haunted. It’s haunted by the forgotten souls of lost Canadians looking for ice.
Villian extraodinaire: VERNON WELLS
The fellas got me to the Con in good time despite the rush hour traffic. Both were genuinely nice guys, nice in a way that isn’t merely ‘good customer service’, and
that goes a hell of a long way to start off a visitors weekend on a very positive note.
Landing at the curb, the convention hall looked quiet from the outside. I was pretty sure that the VIP entry began as my plane was touching down at 3:00pm and it was now 5:30 – so where are all the people you always see milling about outside – smoking, etc??
I pushed through the front doors to find a large open space bordered by vast windows and the registration counter, I did see a couple of people milling about in the hall but from my new vantage point you could see that the place was actually quite busy – everyone was down the feeder hallway, on the convention floor. (As it turns out – the smokers hang out by a different door around back.)
So I’d made it. Feeling that crackle of electric excitement you get before heading into the unknown, I picked up my press credentials, walked through the entry gates (guarded by two of the biggest good ol’ boys I’ve ever seen – dear God they eat tourists down here!!) and into ScareFest IV I went.
Legend of the small and large screen: JAMES HAMPTON
I had a friend in Kentucky who was sure to be at the convention. A young lady I’ve known for almost 10 years who is so in love with horror she joined the war and has been attacking the indie front, determined to make a film of her own.
She has been to ScareFest every year since it’s maiden voyage and we were finally going to meet at number IV. Keeping one eye open for her while the other drank in the sights of the vendors and wonderfully costumed attendees, I made my way to the guest tables where I wanted to say hi to Lance Henriksen (I’d interviewed him recently), Jennifer Blanc (we met in Toronto and I promised her I’d be checking out THE VICTIM, the film she and hubby Michael Biehn were screening here) and Bill Moseley (I had to tell him how good a recent film he starred in was. EXIT HUMANITY – a wonderful Canadian indie film just now hitting the festival circuit)
Above all else I couldn’t wait to see my dear friend Linnea Quigley. We met a couple of conventions ago and have cultivated a wonderful friendship since. The third musketeer of our convention gang (Barbara Magnolfi) wouldn’t be with us at this one but I’ll have the pleasure of her company in Canada early 2012 if not before.
While waiting for Linnea to thrill the lineup of fans at her table, around the corner comes Shauna, my Kentucky friend, in a leggy ‘Playboy’ bunny outfit complete with the ears. A hell of a way to meet for the first time in person!
Elvira's alter ego: CASSANDRA PETERSON
Not only is she a beautiful girl, she has a marvelous husky voice (the beginnings of a cold) with the Kentucky accent that we Canadians only experience through the movies or TV. Shauna walked around with me for the rest of the day, which opened more doors for me than my press pass did as pretty much every male in the place was all too happy to make her acquaintance. (Although James Hampton kept telling her to ‘put some clothes on!”)
When Linnea’s line finally quieted down a bit I ran over and stole a big hug. Well not terribly big, she is a beautiful little pixie that couldn’t possibly weigh more than 75 pounds soaking wet, so bone crushing is a risk. That said, she does seem to be made of solid muscle. That wee girl is fit!
After chatting for a while, Shauna and I wandered the aisles so that I could fully soak in the ScareFest experience. The first thing I noticed was that the perimeter aisles were very wide. The interior laneways were narrower but still a good width, which made for excellent traffic flow. You could get from one end of the Con to the other very quickly. If you want to go a little slower and check out the vendors, take the inside. If you want to get out to the main hall in 15 seconds, take the outside. Simple but effective space management.
And all that outside aisle space gave the scary clowns room to slide. There was a fair number of these circus-from-hell rejects menacing the place, wearing some fairly elaborate costumes. I was admiring the work that went into these while keeping one eye open on the periphery as they had a habit of running, jumping, and sliding on their knees, and I’m like a mother bear protecting her cubs when it comes to my cameras.
The CON CREEPER
It was still fairly early on in the night but I could sense a good energy. Friday nights at most cons are a little quiet, people are tired - fresh from work, and a little tentative but here at ScareFest you got the feeling that these people were waiting for this weekend like Christmas and Hallowe’en combined. Good on ‘em.
We wandered around chatting with people, getting the lay of the land and I took a mitt full of photos until I had to obey the demands of my stomach. I hadn’t eaten much since 4AM that day and was feeling a little faint, so my bunny companion and I scrambled across the road to a pub for a very welcome nosh, which essentially signaled the end of day one.
I have to say, I’m digging ScareFest and Lexington very much so far and I’m looking forward to the next two days. But now, it’s off to bed.
If I can find my room.
Stay tuned to this channel… I’ll be right back with the conclusion of Horror CONfidential: ScareFest IV.
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